Queensland beefs up stock theft penalities

Beef Central, 21/10/2013

The Newman Government has strengthened Queensland’s stock laws to stamp out cattle stealing.

Premier Campbell Newman said new laws would deter perpetrators while providing magistrates more power to help farmers recover stolen stock.

“Cattle stealing is a serious crime that requires serious penalties,” Mr Newman said.

“It is a dirty act that hurts farmers and the wider community, with annual losses in the millions of dollars.

“Life on the land can be hard enough and the last thing farmers need is to have their stock stolen.

“Cattle producers spend a lot of time and money to bring their stock for sale, so for someone to steal them is financially devastating; the equivalent of someone stealing jewellery or money from someone’s home.”

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said that was why the Government was throwing the book at stock thieves.

“The minimum fines for a range of stock offences will now be increased from $200 to $1100 per animal or the value of the animal, whichever is the higher amount,” Mr Bleijie said.

“This reflects the seriousness of any cattle offence no matter the level of criminality.

“These fines will hit the hip pocket of those who attempt to profit from hard working farmers.”

Other amendments to the legislation will benefit investigating authorities and primary producers by:

  • Empowering police to effectively investigate stock crime by extending stock-related search warrant durations from 7 to 21 days;
  • Modernising evidentiary requirements in stock offence prosecutions;
  • Maintaining the ability of police to immediately return cattle to victims of crime where there is no dispute as to ownership;
  • Streamlining the disposal process where there is a dispute as to ownership, allowing the stock to be sold pending an order from the Court to distribute the funds at the conclusion of proceedings.

“Under the new laws, the Court can order the return of cattle when stock has strayed onto a person’s property and the land owner refuses to move the cattle,” he said.

Agriculture Minister John McVeigh said the Government was giving the farmers back the power they deserve.

“The Newman Government supports rural Queenslanders who are the backbone of our State,” Mr McVeigh said.

“Agriculture is one of the four pillars of the Queensland economy and these changes will help us to continue to build the industry and give certainty to farmers.”

AgForce backs crackdown

AgForce Cattle President, Howard Smith, said the amendments had been strongly advocated for by the organisation since its inception.

“AgForce is consistently looking at ways to improve farm and livestock security and the effectiveness of the Stock Squad and we see these changes as a positive for agriculture and the livestock industries,” Mr Smith said.

“Losses from stock theft annually can be many millions of dollars and are a malicious impost on the rural sector.

“We welcome the Government’s moves to take a harder line on stock crimes and to give more power to law enforcement to convict perpetrators and protect stock owners.”

Mr Smith also acknowledged the work of AgForce Cattle Board Director, Ian Harsant, in being a tireless advocate for stock law reform.

“Ian has invested huge amounts of time and energy in both developing AgForce’s stock law policy and lobbying for reform,” Mr Smith said.

“It is pleasing to see these changes announced and for Government to endeavour to reduce the impact of rural crime on our primary producers’ bottom line.

“Thanks must also go to the members of the Stock Working Group, chaired by the Honourable Justice John A Jerrard, who developed these recommendations.”

Source: Qld Govt/AgForce


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